I’m starting to get that sense of rekindling, a slow tortured glow that signals creation. I’m hearing music I want to make. I’m reading words I want to write.
And instead of mapping out my plan and watching it fail, I’m going to try this differently, in conjunction with many of the other things I’ve learned and come to appreciate recently through a new sense of awareness.
I want to write an album again, this time, all on my own. I want to play live again, this time, in my own vision. I see the opportunity to really make a mark in what I do and embracing the things I’m really good at, I can make something that means something.
What that something is? I’m not sure. And that’s the good thing.
I really only have about a half hour before I need to jump in the shower, but I wanted to note a few things for posterity so I can go back and reference later.
Adjustments are key to long term success. That sounds like a quip from a powerpoint presentation, but without being able to change our courses or change our minds, then we we’re doomed to hoping that a shot in the dark will hit the mark. Which it won’t. See, there’s no skill in staying the course; the challenge comes when you see it, maneuver, progress, then change again, because mark my words – it’s going to need to happen again. Indefinitely.
I know I’ve put her through the ringer the last month or so, but it hasn’t been with terrible intention. I know she knows that, too: But that doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Like I told her last night, right now, we’re working on the real shit and it’s going to be hard. My impatience isn’t helping those kinds of things, so I need to make some serious adjustments to take the next step. I couldn’t figure out why we were doing fine, then all of a sudden felt like significant setbacks were around every corner.
The answer? I was working hard, but not smart.
Think of it like pushing a car. Gotta get it to the gas station to get it filled up, right? You’re pushing – it’s tough, but you’re getting there – then all of a sudden, boom. Car stops. You keep pushing, nothing. You know this worked before, so you keep pushing, even harder. You’re straining. Gasping for air. You take a break, then push more, harder this time, and the car doesn’t budge. Finally, you get so frustrated and sit down in a huff, only to find that there are blocks in front of the wheels. No wonder the car isn’t moving. Ah! I have an idea! I’ll push harder!
Welcome to manufactured futility.
You know the blocks are there, you know that pushing hard worked before, but nothing’s happening now. No progress, no moment, and you’re getting exhausted. You know you need to pull the blocks bef…. oh.
And then it hits you.
Pull the blocks, dumbass.
In this case it’s important to understand what the blocks are in order to effectively remove them.
- Stop managing emotional content over text.
This sounds obvious, but when social media and a computer screen are many people’s primary communication portals, we tend to revert to things we know how to do, when face-to-face interaction – reading the body language, seeing the facial expressions, saying the words and meaning them – makes all the difference between real appreciation for a sentiment and abject horror at the inference. Things can get that confused in a chat window. So that is stopping as of today.
Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop talking through the day. We’ll be online with each other all the time, sure, but we won’t engage in important conversations unless we’re face to face. What happens when we’re in a funk and we can tell? Is it a matter of reaching out to say, “Hey, I’m getting this vibe, you wanna chat when I get home?” What about the dreaded, ‘There’s something on my mind, but we’ll discuss when you get back’?
Consider that if it were really that bad, or she was that pissed, or that upset, that shit wouldn’t wait until later. So convince yourself that it’s something that can be – and should be – addressed in person, and don’t lose your mind when you know something’s coming. Really, these are the best conversations you can be having, the real ones, face to face.
- No more milestones
This was a concept that I really liked because it gave me a semblance of a progress report when all it made her feel was a pressure to perform. We can see how this is not very conducive to progress, right?
Going back to the car analogy, here’s the thing: If there are no blocks, and you’re pushing, the distant landscape doesn’t change so much just yet. But if you look down, to the sides, right in front of you, you’ll see that things are moving in their own way. No, it’s not as fast as you want, but you don’t want shortcuts this time around, anyway, right? I mean, that’s just asking for more trouble. This is a journey, not a ride around the block. If you end up back where you started, you’re destined to do this all over again in another 15 years and neither of you want that.
So we’re not going to ‘evaluate at a later time’. We should see progress, slow and steady progress. If I stop looking at the horizon and start looking at what’s in front of me, then I’ll see what I need to see. Granted, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to assuage any disappointment that we’re here in the first place, but that’s your fuel, right? Use it to keep moving.
- No more reassurance requirements.
This kinda piggybacks on the previous sentiment, but if you have to be told that you’re doing a good job, then you’re not. You should already know. And insisting on being told you’re doing a good job doesn’t make either of you feel better, it makes you look like an insecure man-baby. This is completely antithetical to our goals.
- Stop worrying about long-term.
This one was hard for me to come to terms with, but this is one of the most important things to her.
She’s doing her own work and making her own progress in her own ways and she feels that it’s not pragmatic to say, “of course x or y will happen,” because how does she really know?
Me? I’m totally the opposite: “Of course x and y will happen ’cause we’re going to make sure it does.”
The difference here is what has been a thing with us for our entire relationship, yet focused on us now. She’s always been a Glass Half Empty person. I’ve always been the Glass Half Full person. With this dichotomy, we’ve complimented each other perfectly in so many things over the years, but we’ve never had to turn that inward eye toward ourselves until now, and that’s why it feels weird. That’s why I’m not hearing what I want to hear, and that’s why she’s feeling pressure to say what she has never been able to say ever in the history of ever. And that’s important for me to understand: It’s not a diss on me that she can’t say what I want to hear, but she’s never been able to say those things before now, with issues that weren’t even remotely this important. What the hell makes me think that she could agree to that perspective this time around?
Again, keep your eye on what’s in front of you, not the horizon. Wherever you end up, you’re gonna be ok with it, ’cause you’re determined to be with her.
Look, I gotta get ready for work.
Here’s the deal. You feel good today. Stay that way. If you need to vent, find a way to do it without blasting her with piss. And secondarily, be ready to make adjustments when it’s time and try to be much better about anticipating them. I think I will be. This opening act was a doozy, so learn the lessons it taught you and be as compassionate as possible.
I love the woman. Unequivocally, completely, passionately. It’s important to not let that passion get in the way of doing good things, though, so mind yourself and keep working. You’ve done great work so far. Remove those blocks and keep pushing.
Since man has inhabited the deep desert of the Arabian peninsula, we’ve fought the hard fight against Mother Nature’s timeless war to swallow our cities, to scrub any trace of our presence from the surface of the earth. We’ve spent countless generations fortifying our walls, excavating and protecting our aqueducts, girding the signs of our artistry and humanity, but she never stops. She cares nothing for our efforts. The winds will blow the sands that will cover our walls and without constant vigilance we would turn away for a year, or two, or ten, only to be rewarded with maps that guide us to a nondescript dune in a barren wasteland.
I refuse to let that happen.
She’s everything to me, this metropolis of blood and passion and fragility. She is my jewel in the desert of humanity.
Time to move on, now.
Lots of positivity out of stress and anxiety and it’s true: it’s not a huge deal. it’s alright.
Take the last month, put it in a vacuum, and let it go. Seal it up, airtight, and put it away. Throw it away.
Time to move on.
I freely admit that I’m a god damned book snob, destined to hate everything I read, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to find things that are on par with Bakker’s Prince of Nothing trilogy, no matter what you philistines may say about his superfluocity.1 With this in mind, I took a gander at a book that, based on some dumbass Best SciFi/Fantasy of 2016 list, was supposed to be nicely dark and unnerving. Sweet! I didn’t realize they were talking about the fucking punctuation.
This motherfucker couldn’t properly use a semicolon if someone had given him half of mine: Literally nine were used in the span of two pages and I swear only one was warranted and correct. I was astounded. What novelist in his/her right mind wouldn’t know how to use their basic tools? This shit is the kind of shit that gets published and I’m sitting here trying to do right by prospective readers by, I don’t know… phrasing?
Post-Truth: Punctuation is an oppressive construct of the educated elitist class designed to alienate the common man.
Anyway, either that author needs to go back to Junior High, or their editor needs to be fired. Straight up. And there was a nice-sized smattering of people on the Amazon review page that kept praising the prose and writing style! I wanted to throw a torch at them.
So I continue to search. Yet another testimonial to the need to write my own fucking book.
With that in mind, our objectives this year are pretty simple:
Segue: I like that word, ‘objectives’. Reza meant to use it yesterday but said ‘advantages’ instead. She caught herself on the repeat sentence. It’s a much more tangible word than ‘resolution’: That shit is a ghost.
We’re going to save for a house. Diligently. Meaning, no more bullshit eating-out expenses, no more JC being super cool and buying round after round of drinks. No more letting the credit cards mask the inability to manage our money as well as we should. I figure that within 90 days, we could knock that shit down to three-quarters of our debt and set ourselves up nicely for a second-half-of-2017 comeback. Ivonne is on board for sure; it finally clicked with Reza when I told her that the sooner we have our own house, the sooner we can have a dog.2
It was cute.
Secondarily, my other goal is to (finally) write an album this year. Spencer launched the December Album Challenge missile which I can’t believe was truly meant as an actual challenge to write an album3 but more to start the momentum toward real creation. I’ve got all the tools, no excuses. I’ve got all the parts and pieces, so it’s time to get this done. I’m excited.
Tertiarily4 , I’m looking forward to a much healthier lifestyle this year. I’m not gonna make any grandiose promises of losing a hundred pounds or that kind of shit, but fuck man, just stay the course and get on the bike. It’s all good.
And really, that’s it. Not much to it. Don’t spend any money, use the shit you’ve already purchased, and get on the motherfucking bike. Done and done. Now that I’ve been writing here a lot more, we’ll see how this pans out in the full spectrum of black and white profanity.
Today marks the sixth anniversary of Kevin Workman’s death. Damn, I miss that dude something fierce.
St. Louis won the Winter Classic today, crushing the testicles of Captain Serious Kane and his band of face-painted thugs, to the tune of a three-goal margin of victory. Fuck those guys. I kinda regret not going, but I’m kinda also ok with it. Would it have been cool to be in the nosebleeds of Busch Stadium for a Classic win? No doubt. But trying to score seats to that business would have taken one of my own testicles – and being that I’m already out half of my colon, that’s a tap too much generosity. Never you mind that I’m completely fine with focusing on a February trip with Jason and Bridget. That’s gonna be a fucking riot.
My beard is pretty rad. Move along.
Someone on twitter said it best, so I’ll paraphrase rather than plagiarize.
We’re meant to be moved by art, so there’s no shame in mourning your heroes.
Bowie was an earth-shaker for many of my friends; Ivonne was particularly touched by Prince’s untimely death, and while both of those were tragic, neither came as close to home – for me – as Carrie Fisher: Her movies were such a massive part of my childhood, if only because they were some of the few bright points of pop culture allowed in my house. She was a fairy tale, an unattainable scion of the screen and, as I would come to discover, deeply and unabashedly human.
I don’t know. This one is tough.
Not a very productive morning. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m tired (very possible) or pinching up against some writer’s block (also very possible.)
Low frequencies are causing issues in one track and I’m getting sick of listening to the drum pattern. The other one is done, I think, but I don’t want to listen to it for fear of finding something else I don’t like.
So, fuck it. I’m sitting here listening to a simple drone from the RADIAS through Clouds and Elements. It soothes me.
I’d say two hours wasted, but let’s chalk it up to a learning process and move on. I really don’t want this to discourage me, though. We’ll see what tomorrow morning brings.
Haven’t written anything in a couple days and I’m starting to feel it, like being sedentary for a week. I hate that such elementary progress is lauded, but I’m happy about it nonetheless.
So I’m taking a quick break – time boxing, it’s called – from writing these tracks, which, I gotta say, are gonna be pretty good. This whole concept of waking up at 5 AM, foreign as it is to me, was a suggestion that took root after chatting with the guy who does the Subtractive Lad project at a Tycho show in SF. He’s got two kids, a family, a day job, and if he’s waking up early so as to get a couple of hours of uninterrupted creative time, then it can’t be all bad.
But fuck, man.
This is day two and you know how people get when they’re at the front end of a new habit.
Day One: Hell yeah! Exercise! Pump that iron! I’m a badass!
Day Two: I’ll get there 10 minutes late, it’s pretty cold out, so no worries! Fuck, I forgot my coffee, I’ll stop at Starbucks! Oh man it’s so dark still!
Day Three: I’mma hit the snooze button one more time! zzzzzzzzz!
I’ll continue to try to avoid that fate, but it helps that I’m already seeing dividends. Isn’t that always the case?
Fuck, I hate getting up early.
I’m not gonna spend a lot of time on this now, ’cause I need to get back to work in a few minutes, but things with Ivonne and I seem to have righted themselves once more. I know I can be stubborn – and sometimes that’s a huge benefit – but I tend to internalize stress and pressure that I don’t want to ‘dump’ on others. That makes me shut down. I don’t talk.
She’s been doing a lot of good work for herself, both mentally and physically, and I’ve felt very much more like a road sign than a passenger on the journey. I know it’s projection, I know it’s not true, but still, personal reassurance has seemed like placation lately and I need to center. The last few days has been a very much needed part of that process.
Sucks we have to go through this, and I really do want it to be the last time. I need to keep up this particular habit – as much as I’ll roil and complain about it – and let my time become my time again. I can see the future though: This will be a gateway to more healthy decisions, like using this time for exercise once the album is written and it starts to get a bit warmer. Stupid good-decision-making. *grumble grumble*
I desperately need to be more active, though, and it’s as simple as that. We live in the greatest city in the United States and I’m holed up on the couch. Maybe that’s what Reza and I will do on Saturday while Ivonne is in LA.
I don’t feel like i’ve already been up for an hour and a half, but there it is. Gonna make one more pass at these drum loops and see where it lands me before I get in the shower and wash off last night’s makeup sex.
Not gonna lie, my shit is tired, but it’ll be worth it.
I have this pervasive sense that I’m forgetting something. I’ve been going through my email, cleaning shit out, but I haven’t found it yet. When I do, I’ll poop my pants a little.
Speaking of which, I can’t seem to go to the bathroom at work without having EVS (always a lady, mind you) ask if anyone’s in the Men’s Room so she can come in to clean. Every Fucking Time.
Dude, I like to take my time. I’m not gonna blow out my ass pushing1 that shit: I have a window of at least 15 minutes per dook. I can’t rush that business unless I’m trying to get to something else exciting or I just happen to have those mythical One-and-Done type blowouts. Those times are rare. So I like to find a space I can go, chill, catch up on Facebook or some whatnot, and be a bit leisurely about it. But nooooooooo. Not here. Not with the cleaning people seemingly on an hourly cycle that throws me off. It’s annoying as hell.
Yet I’m gonna go tempt the fates once again.
Wish me luck.
- Literally. [↩]
Too many big words! Let’s try that again.
So every year, Siebs and I target a couple games on the schedule that seem like opportunities to head out to Arizona to check out a Cardinals game and for one reason or another – the last four years being my relative proximity to the city of Phoenix – it’s never really come to fruition. We’d thought about heading out a few weeks ago for the Seattle game, but thankfully, shit – and the bitter reality that would most likely come with watching a mediocre team get creamed at home – came up which prevented attendance to that dumpster fire, but god dammit, we talk about this every year! Are we gonna do it or not?!
Enough of this shit.
Nestled sweetly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the first weekend in December offered a perfect opportunity to take a weekend that wouldn’t be missed and turn it into something, if not memorable, then at least relaxing. With the Redskins in town, this is looking promising. While solidifying our plans at the Ould Sod one Thursday evening we realized that the Coyotes had a home game that Saturday night, so why not hit both?
Hmm. Drive out Saturday morning, attend hockey game. Sleep off inebriation. Get up Sunday morning, tailgate, attend football game. Sleep off inebriation. Get up Monday morning and drive home.
The efficiency of such a plan is plain for all to see.
Sure, we’d have to take Monday off, but with PTO in the bank, all good. What about hotel? Siebs would take point on that and report back. How about tickets to the game itself? He had that covered too. All we really had to do was get in the car and start driving which is exactly what we did this last Saturday.
The goal was to be at Brett’s house by 8:00, with a breakfast burrito in hand and on the 8 East by 9:00 AM; with good fortune, we’d be in Phoenix by 3:00 PM – at the hotel-specified check-in time – with plenty of time to take shits (independently) and consume substances (in tandem) prior to gearing up for the hockey game.
Believe me when I tell you that without much, if any, maneuvering to that effect, that schedule is pretty much exactly what happened. I remember looking at the clock on my dash, reading 7:59, when I pulled up to Siebs’ house. Maybe we were about 10 minutes behind after having to deal with an exploding burrito: in what would be a portent of things to come, Brett had the fantastic idea to take our time and eat at the burrito shop. Guess where the chorizo did not end up? Excellent call, mon frere. To the road!
Despite some seriously beefy crosswinds in the desert and some construction around Yuma that threatened to drive us off course, we literally arrived at our hotel at 3:15 local time. Dude. That’s as good of a launch as I’ve ever seen, especially considering local time is an hour ahead.
Turns out our hotel is 10 minutes from the complex that houses a sports version of Downtown Disney, directly adjacent to the Coyotes arena. Seriously? Tequila and nachos? Before we go in? I agree! We rolled into a joint called Whiskey Rose, which, contrary to the name is neither whisky-y or rosey, but they do play a lot of country music. We should have known. But the nachos were good and the tequila – despite being served in plastic cups (wtf?) – was excellent and we went from that unfortunate pall of low energies to invested sports fans in no time. He in his Avs jersey and me in my Blues jersey, bucking antiquated rules that prohibit the wearing of paraphernalia that are independent of the game one attends, we marched proudly onwards, toward uninvested competition.
One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve grown older is that I’ve found a new appreciation for games I love when my teams aren’t playing. It’s much more enjoyable to go to a hockey game – say between the Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets – with zero fucks given toward the winner. I’ve got both Saad and Eckman-Larson on my fantasy team, so either can have a great night and I’m all good; the eventual outcome is independent of my enjoyment level.
So by the time the game went into overtime and shootout, we’d left our excellent third-tier seats and made our way down to the lower bowl where a badass usher named Leroy let us chill in unoccupied seats four rows from the top, right on the left face-off circle. We made new friends, some a bit more inebriated than others – misguided souls who were, with a straight if not flushed face, trying to argue the merits of Edmonton as a better beer town than San Diego. I simply appealed to the better nature and provided my phone number. If you’re ever in Southern California and wish to see the error of your ways, please drop me a line so I can assist.
With a Coyotes loss, we returned to the hotel in short order to check out a local establishment directly across the street called The Moon. Where are you going? To The Moon. Meet me at The Moon. Please, don’t show me The Moon. That kind of thing. Patron and Pacifico please. Oh, this is Blackhawks bar? Please order a round for that already inebriated table of cockdicks so as to avoid any unnecessary confrontations when their bloodlust takes hold. Siebs, those rib tips look kinda delicious, but you go right ahead. I’ll have another beer instead.
We woke up the next morning to no hangovers, thanks to the revelations of how to properly drink 100% agave tequila, secrets I learned a few weeks ago that already paid dividends over our family Thanksgiving trip to Mexico. The rib tips? Not so much ’cause they gave Siebs a great case of Old Man Heartburn all night. All you, man.
But it was now Football Sunday and believe me when I tell you, things had gone so perfectly that I’d kinda forgotten why we went to Phoenix in the first place. Señor Patron may or may not have played a minor part. Now, though? It’s time for Church.
We rolled in to Walmart, Football Gods upon our shoulders, for we found exactly what we needed with maximum expedience. Sausages? Acquired. Buns? Over there. Beer? Meh-but-ok. (San Tan is not a good brewery. FYI.) And I told him that wearing the Palmer jersey1 would be good luck. Sweet Hot Mustard and two ten-pound bags of ice later, we were following the signs to the uncongested lanes that lead to the Purple Lot at about 11:00 AM, three and a half hours prior to game time, when the first and only real scare of the weekend struck: Absolutely no tailgating permitted in these lots read the back of the parking pass.
Dude. No bueno.
But wait! What were those other people doing in said Purple Lots? Was our fate not to be intermingled with theirs? “We don’t really enforce that rule,” said the parking attendant.
Even though we landed square in the middle of what turned out to be the Redskins lot and drained our car battery – rookie tailgating mistakes, I’ll grant – we spent the next few hours grilling, chowing, talking football, and trying to not make eye contact with the weird elderly lady next to us who kept hovering over our sausages and vegetables like a harpy. Would you like one? No? I don’t even…
I guess I was acting a bit antsy, ’cause Siebs had to ask me a couple times if I was ready to go in, but really, it was unbridled excitement. I hadn’t been to a home Cardinals game since 20092 , when Kurt Warner famously out-dueled Aaron Rodgers on their way to a loss to the Saints in the next round. That game and experience was spectacular in every way and it had been way too long since I’d seen a game in the friendly confines of home.
Speaking of home, I’ve got more on this later, I think, but I sometimes wonder what makes people retain their sports loyalties after leaving so many years prior. I haven’t lived in Arizona since I was 17 and in reality, I don’t have much of a connection to the city anymore. I love Phoenix, but I don’t live there. In no way, shape, or form, do I subscribe to the pervasive political climate and I found myself bitching in very Californian ways at the way people walked or drove or generally conducted themselves. There’s a separation that almost defies explanation, but diving into that ‘almost’ is a discussion for another time.
Suffice to say, a home game is a rare luxury and I was beyond ready.
Our seats were on the 15 yard line underneath a blaze of light shining through the open roof which was, in a word, phenomenal. By the middle of the first quarter, the sun had dropped far enough to prevent blindness and we were treated to the fairest hybrid indoor/outdoor stadium experience I can scarcely fictionalize. We even managed to be on the end of the field that saw the most action, such was our fortune.
I won’t recap the game itself except to say this: Larry Fitzgerald is a legend. God damn, that dude is the biz.
So after an exciting win where Black Santa3 saw his beloved Cardinals keep their playoff hopes alive, we got back to the parking lot, had our car jumped by some very cool Redskins fans, help another stranded set of motorists jump their car as well and back to the hotel. A rousing night of celebratory inebriation, you say? No thanks.
Pho, one beer, and Sunday Night Football in the hotel room. Laptops, FaceTime, and a book. I fell asleep by 11:00 and woke up to the bright desert sun the next morning, ready for the trek home to see my girls. This was seriously getting too good to be true.
In what I’d like to thinks was a delicious case of coincidence (or, more probably, The Fortunate Winds of Man-Cation) we were – wait for it – on the road by 9:00 AM after breakfast at The Place. No joke. The Place. I’ve never seen a brick of biscuits that fucking huge in all my life; it felt like someone was overcompensating for Not Being Texas.
An inconsequential and nondescript five-hour-drive later, I dropped Siebs off at his joint at 2:15 and was home myself by 2:30.
Now, the whole time, we kept marveling about how smoothly this had been going, even so far as to stop talking about it the closer we got to the weekend being over. In no real sense did anything of consequence go badly. No missed turns. Not even exiting a gas station parking lot in the incorrect direction. No overcharges, no over drinking. Found everything quickly, including our seats, and the longest line of the entire weekend was the line in the Team Store and that lasted, on the outside, at maybe 15 minutes. Even a Silent But Deadly beer-line fart, launched by Colonel Siebs, had been effectively blamed on someone else and even I was unaware of the misdirection until later that night. All of it was, in a word, outstanding.
So here I sit, back at work on a Tuesday that Feels Like Monday, marveling at the pure, unadulterated lockstep that was Man-Cation 2016… and if our newly-formed future plans fall into line, namely, a visit to every stadium in the NFL, we may have many more of them to come.
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